Making A Trap Gun

Dear Technoid:

I own a 390 SM with 30″ barrel and also a Browning Gold with a 30″ barrel. Can either of these be converted to a trap gun via either the replacement of the “field” ribs with trap ribs or the replacement of the barrels with trap barrels, ie barrels with a trap rib already in place?

I recognize that having the raised trap rib might not work vis a vis the stocks, but thought the Gold stock could be built up with pads and the 390 stock is adjustable anyway. If the former option is doable, can any gunsmith do it or do you recommend Rich Cole or someone like him?

Many thanks,


Dear Kent,

Converting either of your 30″ gas gun to a trap gun should be a piece of cake. I would probably work on the 390 for the simple reason than you can buy a T&S shell catcher for it. That will keep your empties from hitting the guy on your right. Once you start shooting trap a lot, this will assume great importance. I don’t know of any shell catcher available for the Gold.

What makes a trap gun? You can shoot trap with anything, but ideally shooters look for 1) a gun with sufficient weight to swing smoothly and absorb recoil, 2) a barrel long enough for the precise pointing required at ATA trap, and 3) a stock of sufficient height so that the shooter doesn’t have to “cover” his bird when he shoots.

Your Gold and 390 automatically (note clever pun) meet the first two requirements. It’s the third one that we are talking about here. How do you get your gun to shoot high enough so that you can float a rising bird as you pull the trigger, instead of being forced to cover it and shoot blind at that instance?

I don’t think that the answer is in the rib at all. A “trap” barrel really won’t help or hurt either way. You can’t get one for the Gold as they don’t make a trap model. Your 390 doesn’t really need a “trap” barrel. If you have the field model, all the trap barrel will do for you is to give you a little wider stepped rib. A stepped rib is really more cosmetic than anything else and its advantage (or disadvantage) depends on how you set your gun up. Bottom line: you don’t really need a “trap” barrel. The 30″ barrels you have are just fine.

Since your 390 has an adjustable stock feature, fool with that and see if you can get it to fit right. You will want to raise the stock until you can see a little bit of rib. Depending on your stock/facial structure, you may or may not be able to achieve this with the stock stock. Other shims, offering higher settings may also be available from Rich Cole at

If 390 shim adjustment won’t get you high enough or leaves too much slope in the comb to be comfortable, you had better look at buying a dedicated trap stock. This will enable you to set up your guns to shoot the proper height for the constantly rising ATA trap target. Rich will happily sell you a 390 trap stock. He’s got some with killer wood too. You can shim it up or down for that final perfect fit. Nothing easier. The advantage to a proper trap stock is that Beretta makes theirs Monte Carlo, with a flat comb. Many people find this more comfortable as to face slap than a standard dropping comb. Up to you.

Or, you can do it yourself. Just pick either the 390 or the Gold and start layering masking tape on to the top of the comb. You can use those stick-on pads if you want to, but I’ don’t like them. The stick on pads drape over the side of the stock, effectively making it thicker (cast on). You may or may not want to change this dimension. If a stock is too thick, it will make a right handed shooter shoot to the left. Masking tape is more tedious to put on, but you can get it exactly where you want it. Build it up on the top of the stock until you can sight right down the rib and see the middle bead located just UNDER the front bead. This is called a “figure 8”. It’s a good place to start when setting up a trap gun.

Now go shoot some trap. Add and subtract masking tape layers until you get exactly what you wish. You may also want to temporarily add a spacer to two between the stock and the butt pad to gain length. Or, you could temporarily substitute a thinner recoil pad to shorten things.

Add or , subtract tape and spacers until the gun feels good. It will look awful, but you don’t care. Then write a tiny “X” on the tape where your cheekbone touches the stock. Take the whole mess to your local gunsmith and tell him to make it permanent. He’ll reinlet where necessary and do the pad work. It should cost you considerably less than a new stock. It’s your only choice if you want to use the Browning Gold, and it’s a good choice if the adjustments on the 390 aren’t enough for what you want.

Bottom line: Work on the stock of the gun, not the barrel. That’s what will make it into a good trap gun.

Best regards,

Bruce Buck
The Technoid writing for Shotgun Report, LLC
(Often in error. Never in doubt.

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